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HUD expands fair housing protections to LGBTQ community

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Posted at 4:00 PM, Feb 11, 2021

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, often called HUD, announced Thursday it will expand their enforcement of the Fair Housing Act to provide protections to LGBTQ persons.

“Effective immediately,” the memorandum reads, HUD will investigate all Fair Housing Act complaints of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The move comes a few weeks after President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing all federal agencies to assess their policies and make changes according to a June Supreme Court ruling that civil rights law prohibiting sex discrimination includes gender identity and sexual orientation.

“At the core of this Department’s housing mission is an endeavor to ensure that all people peacefully enjoy a place they call home, where they are safe and can thrive, free from discrimination and fear,” reads the memorandum from Jeanine Worden, the acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

“Yet, this ideal remains unrealized for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queeridentifying persons, who have been denied the constitutional promise of equal protection under the law throughout most of American history,” Worden continues.

The decision also applies to organizations and agencies that receive grants through HUD’s Fair Housing Initiative Program, and those organizations must interpret sex discrimination to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We know this discrimination is real and urgently requires enforcement action. HUD-funded housing discrimination studies indicate that same-sex couples and transgender persons in communities across the country experience demonstrably less favorable treatment than their straight and cisgender counterparts when seeking rental housing,” Worden writes in the memorandum.

The Fair Housing Act passed in 1968. It prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

Depending on the presidential administration at the time, HUD’s interpretation of “sex” discrimination changed, according to the Washington Post.Now, HUD hopes to bring consistency by incorporating the Supreme Court’s ruling and interpretation of sex discrimination.